Friday, October 01, 2010

The First Day of School... French Style

While many things have changed for the family in France, just as many things haven’t. For example, we may eat different food, but we still have dinner together. During the summer, we may go to a beach with a lot less clothing, but we’re still going to the beach for summer vacation. But the one thing that is the same all over the world, when summer ends, kids whine and complain that they don’t want to go back to school. It doesn’t matter where you live or what language you speak, going back to school is the blackest day of the year when you are a child.

One of the differences here in France is the fact that you don’t meet the teacher until the first day of school. You don’t see the classroom. You don’t visit the school. Boy and girl went to school for a month this past June so they knew what to expect. Tiny, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. She wasn’t sure about the strange new school. It was going to be her first experience in an all day curriculum. And of course, school was going to be in French.

In France, there is always an exception to every rule. The day before school started, I found out Tiny’s school would be open for 2 hours so the small children could see the classrooms and playground. How do I know this? Because there was a sign posted at the bus stop which said so. Luckily, the kids and I had decided to walk to the bus stop just to see where it was otherwise we would never have known!

Needless to say we rushed back home, piled in the car, and drove to school so Tiny could have some piece of mind. All Tiny really cared about was the size of the playground. Would there be swings, and slides, and thing to do?

On the other hand, I wanted to see the classroom and perhaps, meet the teacher. All my fears were laid to rest upon seeing the classroom. It was big and spacious and appeared to have everything small children need to learn. I shouldn’t have been concerned but sometimes you can’t help but worry. The biggest surprise was when I learned Tiny’s teacher spoke English!

After speaking with me for awhile about what I should expect from a French school, the Teacher decided to talk to Tiny. Tiny's teacher knelt down, and in crystal clear English, using her softest, kindest voice said to Tiny, “It will be ok. If you really don't understand what is going on, I can explain in English. It will be ok and we will have fun together.”

It’s one of the nicest things to have occurred since we arrived and I couldn’t have been happier. This woman, who had never met me before, was making a special effort to insure that my child would be happy and content. As she was speaking, I knew that Tiny would be ok.

When the teacher finished speaking, Tiny didn't say a word. Instead, she turned to me and loudly said, "WHAT IS SHE SAYING? I CAN'T UNDERSTAND HER!"

1 comment: